Michael Comstock of Columbia NC has been found guilty of hunting bear during the closed season as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm. The firearm charge was a federal offense resulting in a six and a half year jail sentence.
Surveillance and investigation into bear poaching in eastern North Carolina by officers of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has led to a federal firearms conviction.
Michael Augustus Comstock, 50, of Columbia, N.C. was sentenced Sept. 17 in U.S. District Court to six years and six months in prison for possession of a firearm by a felon, plus three years supervised probation upon his release.
Comstock pleaded guilty Oct. 6 in state court to hunting during a closed season, which resulted in a $2,000 fine, replacement costs of $2,232 and suspension of his hunting license for two years, effective beginning when released from federal penitentiary. He was also required to pay court costs of $121.
The press release on this case from the NCWRC gives us some of the details of what happened.
Sgt. Mark Cagle of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission led the Tyrrell County investigation, which began April 2007. A stakeout led to apprehension of a suspect and collection of evidence, including a recently killed bear, a stolen 12-guage shotgun that had been recently fired, a 55-gallon barrel of peanut butter, a 55-gallon barrel of bubblegum and 55-gallon barrel of peppermint candy, as well as observation of hunting dogs released at the bait site where the bear was killed that same morning.
Forensic testing by State Bureau of Investigation revealed the slug that killed the bear matched the stolen shotgun.
In addition to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Wildlife officers involved, along with Sgt. Cagle, were Sgt. Mark Rich, Robert Wayne, George Owens, Sgt. Ed Alston, Tim Wadsworth, Jim Schreckengost, Brian White and Nathan Green.
A federal grand jury returned a criminal indictment on Nov. 17, 2007 charging a felon with possession of a firearm. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Bragdon served as prosecutor for the government. On June 16, 2008 after a four-day trial before a federal jury, Comstock was found guilty.
U.S. attorneys recently sent a letter commending the diligence, investigative skills and ethics of the wildlife officers to Col. Kenneth Everhart, chief of the Division of Enforcement for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
“I appreciate this recognition of our officers and their role in this case,” Col. Everhart said. “The level of commitment and hard work by these wildlife officers was outstanding. I also appreciate the efforts by federal prosecutors and the cooperating law enforcement agencies in bringing this case to a successful conclusion.”
A tip of the hat to the wildlife officers that worked so diligently on this case and work hard every day to protect the resources of the state.
Story by Dan McLaughlin AKA Moose